|What kind of Christian Public Leader student would be right for you:||CPL students at Our Saviour’s will have the opportunity to engage with the diversity of an urban neighborhood, with exposure to many different types of social justice and advocacy work. Direct service opportunities such as Neighborhood Bread Oven ministry, Emergency shelter, and English Learning Center are also available. We are hosting 2 students currently and would be happy to welcome 2 more.|
|How many students have you worked with in the past:||7|
|How many rising students or seminarians do you work with currently:||2|
|For this coming semester, what is the maximum number of students with whom you could work:||4|
|What is the optimal length of learning for students working with you:||2 semesters|4 semesters|
|Why would this length of time be best:||It has been my experience that at least two semesters is optimal, allowing for a broad range of experiences and enough time to build relationships within the congregation.|
Admittedly, my experience has been under the previous model, where incoming seminarians did not begin with us until early to mid-October. Between the church beginning our new program year in September and new students getting settled, it seemed only a few weeks passed before end of first semester evaluations were requested. I am opening to trying a one semester placement, realizing that the focus would be on specific course requirements, and less on general pastoral growth and experience.
|Site keywords:||Social justice
Faith based community organizing
English Learning Center
Reconciling in Christ
Neighborhood Bread Oven|
|What is your congregation or nonprofit organization all about:||Our mission statement is actually an accurate description of who we are and who we are working to become: “Our Saviour’s is a dynamic community centered in Christ, called, nurtured and sent – to celebrate, serve and do justice.”|
|Please tell us a bit about your site:||The Our Saviour’s congregation is 145 years old and has been planted in the Phillips Neighborhood since about 1912. Originally a Norwegian Lutheran congregation, these people have been committed to serving the neighborhood as the needs changed. For example, for many years we were a neighborhood congregation. As the city changed, Phillips became a landing place for the newest immigrants to the city (and the nation). An English Learning Center grew out of the identified need for the Hmong residents to learn English, and has grown and expanded to serve whoever is the current immigrant population – most recently Somali. In addition, in response to a rise in homelessness, OSLC members began to shelter people experiencing homelessness about 40 years ago. This program, along with the English Learning Center, has spun-off into a non-profit organization: Our Saviour’s Community Services, which is still closely connected to the ministry of the congregation.|
As members moved further away from the church location we have become something of a “destination” church, and our work has become more focused on advocacy and justice than on providing direct service. We have many strong leaders in our congregation, working vocationally in areas such as Bread For the World, Cherish All Children (prevention of child sexual exploitation), Coming Home Collaborative (healing for returning veterans and their families), ISAIAH (faith-based community organizing), as well as continued engagement with the Homeless Shelter and English Learning Center. We host Lutheran Volunteer Corps members in our Winona House.
Worship is at the heart of our identity and our worship style is lively and diverse. We are committed to worship that is at the same time both faithful to our Lutheran tradition and fresh in terms of current expression. This takes shape as something quite different from the customary descriptions of “traditional” or “contemporary.” Global and gospel music are frequently included, as well as new interpretations of traditional hymns. While grounded in our Lutheran teachings, as a congregation we take seriously the need to interpret the message of Christ as it applies to current life and contemporary experience. That means we explore expanded language for God, wrestle with how to articulate theological concepts and seek to grow as followers of Christ in this time and place. We are launching our particular version of the Catechumenate this fall under the title “Living Questions” because we believe that deep questions are at the heart of a growing faith.
|Please tell us what a student can learn at your site:||Students are welcome and encouraged to become part of every aspect of our ministry: Worship planning and leading, preaching; teaching and faith formation for all ages; Godly Play; Racial and Economic Justice; Immigration; Affordable housing, emergency and transitional housing; challenges of a racially and economically diverse neighborhood.|
We have many strong leaders and a vibrant and growing number of young adults engaged in our congregation. We have a number of Liberian members, though decreasing as they become assimilated to US culture and move out into surrounding areas. We are located in the midst of a great number of service and justice agencies, which is both a strength and a challenge: finding the balance between serving people in need and creating real and authentic community where people actually belong.
In part because we are no longer a neighborhood church, we are seeking ways to re-connect with our surrounding community. One new initiative is our Neighborhood Bread Oven, which we hope will help us to reach across barriers with the common element of food. We have had several successful pizza events and are looking to expand opportunities.
Our members, as in other locations, are challenged by the busy pace of life in our current culture, struggling to find their way through the demands of work, school, sports, travel, volunteering, church commitments and so on. I think this is one of the most critical social dynamics of our time.
|Current position:||Pastor (solo)|
|Please tell us a little bit about yourself as a Christian public leader:||I graduated from Luther Seminary in 2003, as what is politely known as a “second-career” pastor. My undergraduate degree is from University of Wisconsin – Madison. I was raised – loosely – as a Catholic, and have been working to earn my “Lutheran” credentials by going to Bible Camp with our youngest members, traveling to Holden Village, and participating in a Youth Mission Trip. Not Scandinavian at all.|
I managed to ignore a call to ministry for about 20 years, as I repeatedly told God I was “not the pastor type.” After being called to my first congregation I was introduced to ISAIAH and discovered that working for justice is the type of ministry to which I am truly called. My father’s work as a union organizer and my mother’s natural gift for connecting with people of all kinds shaped me to see the world from the perspective of those whom society wants to exclude or diminish. I believe strongly that Christian faith simply must make a difference in the world, for the sake of others, to be authentic.
In my first call I learned a great deal, and frequently felt I was pushing a suburban congregation to be more progressive and inclusive than they wanted to be. My call to Our Saviour’s has landed me in a place that continues to challenge me to be more open, progressive, and inclusive, socially and theologically, than I am. It is a great joy!
I believe that pastors need to have a public presence and a public voice, especially pastors from theologically progressive stance. The world hears much from conservative and fundamentalist people of faith, but very little from those of us who hear Jesus’ call to love God and neighbor as a very wide embrace. I think it is my call to encourage my congregation to be bold in proclaiming the radically inclusive love of God in Christ, in deed, yes, but also in word!
|Please tell us a little bit about yourself as a mentor of students:||Christian public leadership to me means the way we live out our commitment to following Christ. It includes participation in a faith community, the way we treat our family, friends, and neighbors, and the way we live our vocations in the world. Whatever our career or employment, whatever we do with our time and our resources, I believe we are called to live as though we see and believe that the reign of God is breaking in to our current reality. Our faith needs to make a difference in the lives of the people around us – those close to us and those we have never met. One of my favorite mentors used to say with regularity, “One of the ways we love our neighbors is by voting. And by paying taxes.” My faith commitments call me to stretch beyond my comfort zone.|
My supervisory style is collaborative and relational. I like to listen to my seminary students and draw them to think about themselves as public leaders. I like to engage in regular, short studies of scripture during our supervisory time, to see where scripture intersects our lives and our work. I enjoying hearing what the students are discovering about our congregation and what they can teach me. I try to gently challenge students to reflect more deeply about social, theological, and other positions they hold.
I tend to meet with the seminarians from our congregation monthly in a small group format to share experiences, check in on how things are going and what needs to be done. I meet with individuals one to one as needed. I try to invite students to participate in congregational or community opportunities that seem beneficial to them.
I try to be open to suggestions and I am willing to try new things to meet the needs and requests of the students. I love what having seminary students adds to the life and experience of the congregation. I believe we are a good learning environment, and I value the opportunity to support the development of new leaders for the larger church – even as we are sad to say good-by to those who have been with us.